21 June 2011

Getting home: By the numbers

Starting from Stuart, FL...

Day 1:   183nm   St. Augustine, FL
Day 2:   143nm   Hilton Head, SC
Day 3:   123nm   Charleston, SC
Day 4:   231nm   Oriental, NC
Day 5:   156nm   Norfolk, VA
Day 6:   192nm   Atlantic City, NJ
Day 7:   191nm   Catskill, NY
Day 8:     94nm   Fort Plain, NY (Lock 15, Erie Canal)
Day 9:     94nm   Clay, NY (Lock 23, Erie Canal)
Day 10: 148nm   Port Weller, ON
Day 11:   90nm   Erie, PA
Day 12: 186nm   St. Clair Shores, MI
Day 13:   43nm   Sarnia, ON
Day 14:   82nm   Kincardine, ON

Total: 1956nm

Eight different states and a province.

19 June 2011

Day14: Homeward bound

Day14 is the final leg of this delivery.

Our first voyage together as a family.

With only approximately 80nm to cover today, life is a lot more relaxed.  The 6am alarm has been changed to 8am.  For the past 13 days, we have been on the water before 7am.  Not today.  Today it was shortly before 10am when we made our way off the dock.

Getting off the dock... that is a bit of a story in itself and it attracted quite a crowd.  You see, when I pulled into Sarnia the boat behind me was a 50' Viking (it's a small world.  I looked at this boat over the winter).  Well, he was importing his new boat today as well.  His 50' Viking turned into a 61' Viking!  A beautiful boat, but it left me a fair bit less room to manoeuvre.  As we cast our lines one kind gentleman offered his assistance.  By the time I wiggled my way out of there, a crowd of 10 had gathered.  A small round of applause followed.  Yes, it was a little tighter that I would have liked.

Most of the trip home was like a mill pond.  So, we set the auto pilot and played Pop n Go at the helm.  Macara drove for a while.  And then the girls got hungry and went down stairs to make lunch, which turned into watching a movie.  It's all good!  A great first day out on the water!!!

We will sit in Kincardine for the week.  Load her up with our stored boating stuff.  Then, next weekend we will take her up and around to Wiarton, our home port.

I apologize for resorting to Google Maps, but I don't have good marine maps on my laptop for Canada.
Day14:  Sarnia to Kincardine

18 June 2011

Day13: Let's make this boat ours

Today is the first day that I am to operate this boat on my own.

Chris casts my lines for me and I put out to L. St. Clair.  Today's destination: Sarnia, ON.  Back home to Canada for real.

Today I will import the boat into Canada properly.  Today my girls are flying down to join me.  Today, for the first time, the boat feels like ours.

I put out of the marina, set the auto pilot on a slow idle and run around the boat gathering in lines and fenders. Soon, I am ready.  I put the boat up on plane and start making my way to Sarnia.


The smile is short lived, cause within minutes I am enveloped in a thick fog.  No problem. I have got radar!!!  Reduce the speed a little and press on.  As soon as I enter the St Clair river the fog clears.

Does nobody work around here?!?!  The river is littered with fisherman.  That and there are more freighters here than we saw in New York harbour.  I don't mind, I am on my new boat.


It is never an enjoyable experience dealing with the government.  And truthfully, I don't have clue what the process is.  But, today is my lucky day, every official that I talk to is in a good mood and actually seems to be reviling in my purchase.
The brokers have my paper work complete and ready to go.  In and out.  Except for some pleasant small talk.
I walk over to the customs building with this strange paper work in hand.  She takes a quick glance at it. It all seems to be in order.  Stamp... stamp.  "That's all sir".
Wow, that was easy.  Apparently, they don't put up much of a fuss when you give them money.

Quick fast back to the boat.  My girls are coming.  I have to get some of this trip washed off before they get here.  I want Knot Yet looking her best when they arrive.

Many thanks to my buddy Howie for flying Kerri and Macara down to meet me.  It is going to be great to have the whole family together for this final leg back to Kincardine.

Today's route:

17 June 2011

Day12: Lake Erie

L. Erie weather changes quickly.  And, today, it is true to form.

The morning starts off favourable, but Environment Canada is forecasting the winds to switch to a head wind.  And they were right.  Annoying enough that we had to change course.  Rather than following the major shipping channels, we made our way north to Point Pelee.  We kept the waves a little more on our beam, rather than on our nose.  She is fine ship!

If we keep pushing, we can make the Detroit river and put this slop behind us.

Jefferson Beach Marina (St. Clair Shores, MI) is our goal.  Once we get there, the end is near.  Captain Chris is ready to go home.  We have a driver lined up.  And his flight booked for Ft. Lauderdale out of Detroit.

Yesterday, I mentioned, the synchronizer was acting funny.  Rather than synchronizing, it was actually forcing the engines out of sync.

Between Chris and I, we have several contacts in our phones.  We start to calling.  We phoned the manufacturer.  We had a tech lined up to meet us at Jefferson Beach.  Chris spent a fair bit of time in the engine room getting part numbers.   ZF was doing their best to diagnose the issue while we were under way. The controls are not the originals, so we called the place that installed them.  It turns out, that while Chris was showing me how things used to work.  The button that we thought was now disabled was the issue.  With one flick of a button, we were back in business.  That phone call probably saved me a $1000.

There are so many systems on this boat.  I am still learning.  It's good to have a network of people that I can call.

Today's route:

Day11: The Welland Canal

To get to the Welland Canal we traversed 8 locks, refuelled in Oswego, NY and essentially raced the entire length of L. Ontario.

We made great time and beat a commercial freighter by an hour.  We made our window!

To travel the Welland Canal you must have 3 people aboard.  So, I hired an ex-Canal employee to co-ordinate our passage.  At the bottom of Lock 1 there is a private vessel wall.  On shore there is two phone booths.  One to call CANPASS to allow vessels entering the country to clear customs.  The other phone booth has a credit card machine to pay for your vessels passage and a phone to call the Lockmaster.

Yes, we had a window and should have been allowed through.  BUT, cutbacks mean the canal is understaffed.  The current crew was under compliment and was not able to take any private vessels.

We would have to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  We weren't going to make it through tonight.

What a bummer!  The closer we get to home, the more we want it.  Almost all the stars had aligned to get our day back.  So close, and yet so far.  Get some sleep.  We aren't going anywhere tonight.

When we wake up there is a tall mast sailboat on the wall behind us.  Apparently, he will be locking through with us.  Unfortunately, he needs a customs inspection.  It will be 9am before we are underway. That is the latest we have cast lines yet.

It's about 4:30pm when we clear the canal.  There is plenty of daylight left and we have fuel.  We also want to put these locks well behind us.

The third boat that we locked through with has been making the same speed as us since the Hudson river.  They were heading for Dunkirk, NY.  What the heck, so are we!

When we got to Dunkirk, we found out that the only place that sells diesel is closed.  It is only 6pm!

I love my Garmin GPS!  A quick pan down the coast. Zoom... zoom... zoom.  Erie, PA.  What's it got?  A quick search of the local services and we find a fuel dock.  The GPS has it's phone number stored.  A quick phone call proves they are willing to stay open late for a purchase of our size.

Throttles down!  We are on our way.

Erie, PA is a nice town.  I would make this my destination of choice over Dunkirk, NY any day.

What a shame to have to come off the water.  L. Erie is flat as can be.  Very enjoyable.

Finally, in the US, they have these video phones for clearing customs.  A great idea in principle, in practice these things are frustrating to say the least.

Something strange happened with the auto synchronizer while coming into Erie.  More on that story later.

Day9 and 10: More Erie Canal

More of the same.

Up until now we have been following the Mohawk river.  As we reach it's head waters we start using man-made canals.  Long straight runs.  Slow speed limits.  But, we are making progress.

On Day9 we make L. Oneida.  And the height of land in this area of Upstate New York.  Which means our first down locks.  It's time to make our decent down to L. Ontario.

As Day9 draws to an end we start making plans for where we want to stop for the night.  We like to get fuelled up at the end of the day, so that it doesn't interrupt our daylight travelling hours.  Guess what?  Nobody in this neck of the woods sells diesel.  Damn!

A nice place just the same.  They even gave us a lift in to town for groceries and to pick up some take-out.  Genuinely nice people.  http://www.piratescovemarina.com/

Day10 starts off a little breezy as we make our way toward L. Ontario.  The Oswego river is my least favourite portion of the canal. Way too many cottages laying claim to 'No Wake' zones so that they can leave their 16' runabout on a dock.  It goes on for ever!  And the locals get irate over the tiniest ripple.  The boat in front of us had the Sheriff called on him.  We just had a phone call placed to the next Lockmaster.  No harm, no foul.  Just not a very welcoming place.

Fuel up at Oswego and race to the Welland Canal.  If we hurry, there is a window of opportunity that we may get locked through tonight!  That would be awesome!!!  That would buy us a travel day back.

L.  Ontario, starts of quite rough.  Not encouraging at all, but within an hour or so, it lays right down and we flying right along.

We arrive at the entrance to the Welland Canal by 5:30pm.  Perfect!!!  We made it on time.

Some neat links and maps:

Erie Canal Day 1 progress - We stayed at Lock 15 in Fort Plain, NY
Erie Canal Day 2 progress - We stayed below Lock 23 at Pirates Cove Marina in Clay, NY
Erie Canal Day 3 progress - Fuelled up and on L. Ontario by lunch time.


16 June 2011

Day8: The Erie Canal

Sorry about the lack of updates.  New Yorkers don't believe in wifi.  And I haven't figured out how to post from my cell phone yet.  We will see who takes longer to embrace technology.

For those moving north up the Atlantic coast with the Great Lakes in mind, there is a tempting short cut that saves the long voyage up around the Nova Scotia and in the St. Lawrence.  At New York, take the Hudson River up past Troy, NY and then head west under L. Ontario.

The kicker???  Low fixed bridge heights.  For our route we were staring at 20' bridges. 

Ocean Yachts specs state my hardtop is 15' 6" above the water line.  The radar and satellite antenna put me at about 17' or so.  The VHF antennae are not a problem, they fold forward.  The outriggers???  How low do they go?  And the water levels?  Are they down to normal or are they still high?

Those strange looking poles that stick out the back of the boat are for salt water fishing.  Truthfully, I will likely get very little use out of them.  But, right now, they are 39' of concern.  And that concern, very quickly became a surprise.  I had read and studied the various bridge heights on the Erie Canal system.  What I had failed to acknowledge was the Hudson River had it's own low bridges.  And, so the fun began, drifting around in the middle of the Hudson River, dropping VHF antennae and feverishly lowering the outriggers.  Then, inching ever so slowly, we crawled towards our first test.

I believe that first bridge had a 24' clearance.  Even at their fully lowered position, it is obvious that the outriggers sit higher than anything on top of the flybridge.  But, how much higher?  Are we going to be able to reach L. Ontario without getting the tools out?

Plenty of room!!!

Neither Captain Chris nor myself had ever travelled the Erie Canal system.  I have done a few locks on the Trent - Severn and Chris has been through the Panama Canal.  How much different could it be?

So, we winged it.  My plan was to pick up a Canal guide at the first lock.  Well, the first lock isn't part of the Erie Canal, it is on the Hudson River.  What do we do?  Fake it.  No harm, no foul.

Fifteen locks later we call it a day.  A place called Fort Plain, NY.

Life is slow moving on the Canal.  Locks drain faster than they fill.  So, typically we found the locks full for the higher elevation.  Which meant at every lock, we waited for the lockmaster to drain the lock before we could enter.

94nm travelled today, but a third of them where cruising up the Hudson.  We are doing the best we can, but it is less than half the distance we would cover on an easy day on the Atlantic.

Home seems further away today.

Today's route:

11 June 2011

Day7: Our final day on the ocean

Our final day on the ocean.  Or, so we thought.  We woke up to dense fog everywhere.

Spark up the radar.  Turn on the running lights.

6 knots.  This stinks!  9 knots.  Well at least we can steer this.  And only 4-5 gallons per hour.  Almost trawler like.

It was 3 hours before the fog finally cleared.  Pick it up!  But, along came the wind and the waves.  We took a pretty good beating.  With only 19nm of New Jersey left we had to make a decision.  Do we give up for the day?  No way, let's press on.

A tiny angle change and getting off the Jersey coast and life improved a lot.  Long Island... New York City... the Hudson River.  Good bye Atlantic Ocean.

The Hudson River is a pleasant surprise.  A lot more scenic than I had imagined.  West Point Academy is an impressive sight from the water.

Our slow start left us a little short of the Erie Canal, but we are close and we will make the best use of our time for the next couple days.  There is a lots of water still in the canals, so levels are high.  I hope we have the bridge clearance.  The outriggers don't go as low as I had imagined.  It is going to be close.  Or the tools are coming out.

Erie canal:  http://www.canals.ny.gov/

Today's route:

Day6: Atlantic City

The morning started early like all the others.  Except this time our route took us out past battleship alley.  Bummer... not one submarine to be seen.

Now that the boat is running strong, our only worries are weather related.  They are calling for possible thundershowers starting as early as 2pm.  Likely by 8pm.  Today we are in a bit of a rush.  So, we pushed the boat a little and it loved it.

Best fuel prices we have seen.  $3.78 per gallon.

The marina as of a couple weeks ago was owned by Donald Trump.  No free wifi?!?!?!  There is no way I am paying for wifi after already spending more than enough.  The blog will have to wait for tomorrow.

Interesting story from the water today:
What now??? The aft bilge pump is running steady.  What is leaking now?!?!?!  Nothing ;-)  The rough seas slammed the float switch so hard that it pulled it's screw out of it's mount.  The switch was twisted up in corner.  One quick screw and we are back in business.

Interesting stories from Atlantic City:
We had a great sushi/sashimi meal over looking the boardwalk and beach and then off to one of Donald's many casinos.  I doubled my money playing Blackjack.  The bummer of it all is they had $1 tables and I only sat down with $20.

The route from Norfolk to Atlantic City:

09 June 2011

Day5: Norfolk,VA

The Gremlins have been sorted out.  And they have been kicked off the boat.  We haven't fixed what they broke, but they are gone.  No more problems.

The problem was not the trim tab solenoids, which we so quickly replaced.  The problem was the starboard trim tab switch.  Last night's trick of moving the port side solenoid over to starboard side worked like a dream.  It was pure ecstasy this morning to feel the boat rise out of the hole at a balanced trim.

There were times we ran like a 48' sport boat.  Twisting a turning with the river, what a blast.  A lot of the trip so far has been set the Auto pilot and watch for hazards.  Today, I got to drive the boat.

I am thinking about quitting eating crab.  There are way too many crab pots in the Carolinas!!!  One almost wrapped around my drives!!!  As it was, I had to zig zag through the Carolina sounds, dodging very tiny crab pot markers.  Eventually, in 2-3' chop I ran over one that I could not see.  My heart sank.  Fortunately, I didn't wrap it around my running gear.  It was a sickening feeling.  I may have cursed.  There was an f-bomb dropped in our general facinity.  We didn't need that.  Luck was on our side.

Luck.  Dolphins saw us out this morning. 8 or 10.  Always a nice sight.

It was a happy boat today.  No more guessing what we are up against.  A lot more music.  A lot more relaxed.

Stretching it yesterday to Oriental, NC ensured we made it to Norfolk, VA.  Today, we were delayed by a barge carrying hazardous waste, trains parked on our bridge, a fire that needed emergency vehicles to keep our bridge closed and the ultimate, a sail boat that entered our only lock and got flipped around backwards.  What a wafi!

Tomorrow, Atlantic City, NJ.  By Saturday, salt water will be behind us.  We will be up the Hudson River.

Tomorrow's forecast:

Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 75. Southwest wind around 8 mph. 

Friday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Friday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly between 8pm and 2am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 73. Southeast wind at 6 mph becoming southwest. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. 

Today's route:

08 June 2011

Day4: We made Oriental.

Yes, we made Oriental, NC.  No, the trim tabs are not fixed.

It would appear our problem was not solenoid valves.  Shortly after heat shrinking the connections, I thought to myself, it would have been a good idea to put a voltmeter on that.  But, we didn't.

This morning we were on the ocean at 6:40am.  Still listing!!!  This is getting frustrating.

We had 224nm to cover today to make up for our lost time.  Full port-side tabs needed to stabilize the boat while on plane.  To maintain course the autopilot applies 3 to 5 degrees of starboard rudder, just to maintain course.  Something is still not right.

Ten hours on the ocean gives a guy a chance to think.  One side works and the other doesn't???  What if I take the good solenoid valve from the good side and move it to the bad side.  That should work!  And it did.  What it also exposed... Capt. Chris noticed a sloppy switch.  Broken!!!  I will have to replace it in the next 200-400nm  ;-)

A really good sesame seed tuna tonight.  Unlikely looking place.  Fantastic dinner!!!

Yesterday, they forecasted 10-15kts and 2ft seas.  Actually, it was 20-25kts and 3-4ft seas.  Interesting enough when you are 'forced' to run full trim tabs down in a following sea.

Interestingly, 3 Sportfish left Charleston, SC this morning at exactly the same time with the same destination in mind.  We ran the same course all day.

Tomorrow's weather:  It's going to be a hot one!!!

Overnight: Mostly clear, with a low around 76. Southwest wind between 11 and 13 mph. 

Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 96. Heat index values as high as 102. Southwest wind between 10 and 13 mph. 

Today's route:

Tomorrow we run the inside up to Norfolk, VA.


07 June 2011

Day3: It's official, we have lost a day.

We finally made Charleston, SC.  And then we didn't leave.

We have two issues.  Uneven fuel burn and a bad trim tab.  The trim tab is trivial next to fuel issue.  But, is the trim tab creating the uneven fuel burn?  My saddle tanks gravity feed to a centre tank. How much could our listing lead to 150 gallon differential in fuel feed.

Yesterday, in Hilton Head, we suspected a check valve sticking.  We even brought in a mechanic to look at it.  Nothing appeared out of the ordinary.

Today, we listed and the differential fuel burn was still there.  So, we isolated a tank and watched.  The lower tank fed fine.  It would appear if we fix the trim tabs, then we are good to go.


What else is going on?  A big sport fishing tournament in Beaufort, NC.  Our planned destination.  So, we will have to push a little further to Oriental, NC.  A long haul, but it will buy us back some time.

Day0: Stuart, FL
Day1: St. Augustine, FL
Day2: Hilton Head, SC
Day3: Charleston, SC
Day4: Oriental, NC ???

Tomorrows weather:

Tonight...S winds 10 to 15 kt...becoming SW 10 kt. Seas 2 ft.

Wed...SW winds 5 to 10 kt...becoming S 10 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Seas 2 ft.

Wed Night...S winds 5 to 10 kt. Seas 2 ft. 

Today's route:

06 June 2011

Day2 sets a new course

Day2 had us set course for Charleston, SC.  Not our longest run, but definitely our furthest offshore.

Well guess what happened.  It didn't go well.

About 2hrs into the run... did you hear that?!?!  That sounded like a high level bilge alarm.  Where is that water coming from.  The rear bilge has water in it, but why is the bilge pump not pumping it out?!?!  It mustn't be working.  That's not good.  We got to change course.  We are some 45 nm offshore.

Also, why is the port side saddle tank showing it is down to 3/4 full already.  That is not right!  That's 2x as much fuel as should be missing.

Neat little fact about the 48' Ocean.  Two saddle tanks (270 gallons each) gravity feed forward into a centre tank (145 gallons) where the engines draw their fuel.  Well, in order to save money, Ocean only put gauges on one saddle tank and the centre tank.  So, the whole time the saddle tanks are feeding forward the centre tank indicates full.  In fact, as of yet,  I have never seen the full low enough to see the centre tank off full.  Does that gauge work?  Who knows???

What we did know was this... the emergency bilge alarm was going off.  We need to get off the ocean.  What we didn't know was where all that fuel was going.

New course... Hilton Head, SC.

Not long after changing course there are no more bilge alarms.  Hey, did you see that?  It appears the normal bilge is working on this new angle.  But, why are we at 1/2 full on the saddle tanks?  We should only have burned half that.  Something is still not right.  Keep making way for Hilton Head.

By the time we reach Hilton Head the boat is really starting to list, even becoming difficult to handle in the surf.  What is going on?

First, let's fuel up.  Let's find out what those gauges are telling us.  220 gallons from the port side, only 70 gallons from starboard.  That's the right amount, just not the right ratio.  Why so much out of the port side?  A quick look at the Ocean Owner's Manual show check valves coming from each saddle tank before feeding the centre tank.  Could one be stuck?  Well it wasn't stuck by the time we opened it for inspection.  But, that has to be it!  We will know more tomorrow.  60nm north to by Charleston should let us know if we are still only delivering fuel from one saddle tank.

Tomorrow's weather:

Overnight: ESE wind 9 to 12 kt. Mostly clear. Seas around 2 ft.

Tuesday: E wind 9 to 13 kt becoming SE in the afternoon. Mostly sunny. Seas around 2 ft.

Tuesday Night: SSE wind 9 to 12 kt decreasing to 6 to 9 kt after midnight. Mostly clear. Seas around 2 ft.

Today's route:

View from our slip:

Putting the south behind us:

05 June 2011

Day1 and we are already a day late!!!

My intentions were good, my delivery was a little poor.

We tried to close the deal on Knot Yet on a Friday the 13th.  Guess what, it didn't happen.  Just the same, I had promised a bunch of friends a good time at Sailfish Marina in West Palm Beach.  The deal didn't close until Monday.  No boat = no good time.

Fast forward to Day1 of delivery.  We had it all worked out with the boat yard.  Work was to be completed by Friday.  No exceptions.  We were leaving on Saturday.  I had invited the same faithful group to join me on our first leg north.  Stuart to St. Augustine!  They had rooms booked.  Cars rented.  Oops!!! Sorry gang.  The boat won't be finished until noon-ish Saturday.  We won't be heading to St. Augustine until Sunday.

With family and friends offered a token boat ride on Saturday, it was up bright and early and we were heading north Sunday morning.  What started out as very soft 2ft swells turned into nothing at all.  A very uneventful first day.  Just the way we like it.

The weather forecast looks good.  The sooner we get off the Atlantic, the better chance I have of making it back to work on time.

Monday: Variable winds less than 5 kt becoming E 6 to 11 kt in the afternoon. Mostly sunny. Seas 1 to 2 ft.

Monday Night: E wind 6 to 11 kt becoming SE after midnight. Partly cloudy. Seas around 2 ft.

Day 1:


03 June 2011

Tomorrow we are heading north!

We have a busy day ahead of us today as we try and complete all the yard work.  I hope it all gets done.  It's going to be a busy boat.  There isn't a single job that I would call 100% finished.  A lot of wrap up to get done.

If today goes well, tomorrow morning I am coming home.

First leg... Stuart, FL to St. Augustine, FL.

We have a boat load.  We have spent so much time in Florida lately that we have started to blend in with Kim and James's friends.  So, it is only fitting that we load the boat for it's first journey north.  All toll, there will be 8 of us on board.  Kim and her friends will grab a room up in St. Aug as the captain and I will have an early morning as well make our way up to Charleston, SC.

I will try and make daily entries during the delivery to track the boat's progress.

Planned destinations on the Atlantic coast:

Stuart, FL (start)
St. Augustine, FL
Charleston, SC
Morehead, NC
Norfolk, VA
Atlantic City, NJ

Weather Synopsis:


Tomorrows Forecast:

Saturday: ENE wind 9 to 12 kt. Mostly sunny. Seas around 3 ft.